Beverly Hills, 90210: Season Three
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Beverly Hills, 90210: Season Three

There are some tough choices a producer has to make when a popular television series makes it to their third year. There is a fine line that has to be walked between keeping the elements that made the show successful and letting the characters and situations grow in a natural fashion. For ‘Beverly Hill, 90210’ the third season built nicely upon the previous two while allowing these ‘teenagers’ to grow and permitting the stories to tackle more adult problems. By this time the gang at 90210 are finishing up their junior year of high school and getting ready to start the much anticipated senior year. In a real way the problems face by a series in its junior year reflect those of real high school students. This is very much a rebuilding year. The work of gaining acceptance has for the most part been done. Now is the time to become more mature which in television parlance typically means add more sex, get some stories about vices like smoking and drinking and bulk up the male characters so when they take their shirts off to fight the girls in the audience will swoon. For the young ladies of the series the skirts tend to get shorter and tighter, the makeup a little more pronounced and they openly flaunt their own desires. Even the good girls of the series start to find romance in this season. Paramount now has the complete third season released to DVD for your enjoyment and to extend your collection.

The Walsh Twins Brandon (Jason Priestley) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty) are no longer the new kids from Minnesota. They have managed to work their way into the all important cliques of the native born Beverly Hills teens. As this season begins Brenda is still in trouble with her parents Jim (James Eckhouse) and Cindy (Carol Potter) over her increasingly steamy relationship with the local bad boy, Dylan McKay (Luke Perry). By the end of the last season she took off without permission to go on a weekend with him in Mexico. Now she is acting like a typical teenager who can’t get her way. She becomes moodier than usual sulking and stomping around the Walsh home. Every chance she gets Brenda sneaks off to be with the forbidden Dylan. When Jim and Cindy join the Country club they discover Brenda and Dylan engaged in a whole class lip lock on the beach. Jim does what any normal father would do, completely lose it. Brenda responds by storming home, packing her designer cloths and moving in with Dylan. She finds life with her boyfriend is not the wonderful experience she had hoped for. She fights with Dylan and winds up going to Paris with her friends Donna (Tori Spelling). Originally Kelly (Jennie Garth) was supposed to go along but her mother gives birth and she stays to help out. In Paris Donna is always complaining about missing her boyfriend David (Brian Austin Green) resulting in Brenda missing Dylan. Brenda comes back from Paris a chain smoker which makes way for an episode of her trying to quit.

Brandon has his own problems as his sister spirals out of control. He gets to bounce from one girl to another including having a brief crush with the brainy Andrea (Gabrielle Carteris) who remains as a best friend. He then moves on to the volley ball player Brooke Alexander (Alexandra Wilson) but dumps her when she turns out to be a racist. Brandon also starts gambling on basketball games with a local bookie and winds up with a full blown addiction to it. While Donna and Brenda where in Paris David had a fling with a girl, Nikki (Dana Barron) and figures he’ll be safe that she and Donna will never met. Of course it turns out that Nikki transfers into West Beverly Hills High and is befriended by Donna. Nikki is no longer interested in David once she sets her sights firmly on Brandon. Gil Meyers (Mark Kiely) becomes the faculty advisor for the school paper where both Brandon and Andrea work. He is accused of sexism when he gives the position of editor to Brandon. He resolves the issue by making them both co-editors. Andrea has to investigate what really is going on when Gil is accused on sexual harassment by the mother of one of the students. Along with all this drama are some more routine problems such as getting ready for the SATs and preparing for graduation. There are also ample opportunities for some socially relevant themes such as when they gets tickets to a Rosie O’Donnell special on AIDS or Dylan becomes sick from surfing in polluted waters. Even though they are wealthy Brandon always seems to get work. Between the Country Club and the teen hang out dinner, the famous Peach Pit, he seems to have constant work. You have to wonder how he finds time for the paper and his romances. There are some setbacks for a few characters. Dylan is deeply affected when he goes to visit his father in prison. Another happens when Andrea is struck by a hit and run driver and confined to a wheelchair with a pair of broken legs. This season’s Christmas episode is in the realm of fantasy but such holiday faire is considered acceptable. They have two angles Clarence (Robert Costanzo) and Miriam (Bonnie Urseth) provide the narration.

The cast has gotten a much better command of their roles in this season. They are all professional and know how to build on their previous seasons and let the characters grow. Of course you have to remember that when it is all said and done this is a soap opera and has to abide by the format of the genre. Two characters that absolutely hate each other in one episode most likely will be in bed together a few episodes down the line. There is also the standard for any teen oriented soap, the tease. As Donna, Tori Spelling, the executive producer’s daughter, is a good girl. She may not go all the way with the guys but in this season the skirts got even shorter and there was a lot of eye shadow on the increasing amount of cleavage shown. Luke Perry really got into the moody rebel mold here. He was the small screen version of James Dean and just about as good when it came to an angst ridden glance.

Like the other seasons sets for this show Paramount gives all the episodes but they apparently did have to change some of the music used. This was due to licensing rights that did not extend to digital media. The full screen video is a bit grainy and sometimes just a little out of focus. The colors where more subdued that the other two sets. The Dolby Stereo is okay with very good channel separation. There are some extras in this set. The first is ‘7 Minutes in heaven’ which helps to unravel the many interconnecting relationships of the season. ‘The World According to Nat’ allows Joe E. Tata to comment on the season through his character of Nat Bussichio, owner of the Pit. Last there is a featurette that provides a summary of the season. This season was one of the better ones in the series. If you are into teen angst and drama this is a must have.

Posted 11/24/07

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